Sneak Peak: WIP Excerpt

I’ve reached the halfway point in the book, and I thought it was time to give you a glimpse. It doesn’t have a title yet and final edits still need to be made, but here ya go.

The main characters (so far) are:

* Zach, a bisexual actor on the cusp of being famous, who’s keeping his orientation on the DL.
* Sky, a pre-op transwoman herbalist living in Laurel Canyon.
* Ricky, Zach’s old high school buddy, who just split with his wife.
* Andy, Zach’s best friend on the west coast.
* Augie Fischer, Sky’s lesbian shrink
and a few others I won’t detail now. 🙂


Zach didn’t realize how drunk he was until after he left the club and tried to get into the car. His foot slipped off the running board twice, and he stopped, swaying slightly, looking at his friend over the top of the vehicle.

“Can’t drive, Andy.” He closed the door and leaned against it. “What shape are you in?”

Grinning, Andy came around to the driver’s side. “Better than you, by far.” He opened the door. “Get in, slide over, and open the window in case you need to puke.”

Laughing, Zach crawled in, climbed over the center console, and collapsed in the passenger seat. “Not gonna puke. I never puke.”

Andy got behind the wheel, inserted the key, and started the car. “Bullshit. What about the time we were at that party in the Hills? You know, last summer.”

“Sarah’s birthday party? Oh, yeah, I did kind of lose it that night, didn’t I?” Slipping down onto his tailbone, he put his sneakered feet up on the dash, bracing himself against movement.

Snorting, Andy merged into traffic. “The inside of that car had to be cleaned twice.”

Zach giggled. “Sorry. Promise! No upchucking tonight.”

“Hey, I don’t give a shit. It’s your car.”

They laughed as they headed down Santa Monica Boulevard. It was a chilly night with a light breeze. Zach wished he could see the stars, but the light pollution was so bad, nothing in the heavens was visible.

“You were hitting the liquor hard. What’s up?”

Zach was still peering up through the windshield, trying to see anything other than the light umbrella over the city. “Can’t sleep lately. I thought it might help.”

Andy shook his head. “No, no, you pass out on liquor, but then you’re awake again a few hours later.”

Leaning back in the seat, he glanced at his friend. “Then what do you suggest?”

“I know someone who can fix you right up. You don’t have anything against natural herbs and stuff, do you?”

“Herbs are good. Minimal side effects, right?”

“Right. I know someone.” He pulled into the right-hand turn lane at the next light. “Ever heard of Sky?”

Zach burst into laughter. “What, that stuff over our head? Supposed to be blue but is often a dirty gray? Yeah, I have a passing familiarity with it.”

“Asshole. I’m talking about a person. Sky is sort of the unofficial herbalist in this town. Does her own distillations, sells them to whoever wants them. Also happens to read palms, and I swear to god, she’s psychic. The real thing, not like those twits who talk to you over the phone for five bucks a minute.” He turned left, then right again, heading into LaurelCanyon. “She told me the woman I was seeing a few months ago was shagging someone else, and I found out a week later she was.”

Zach rolled his eyes. “In this town, everyone is shagging everyone else. That’s not prescience, it’s a fact.”

“Fine, don’t believe me, but she can fix you up with something that will help you sleep naturally. I’m taking you there now.”

Zach sat up and looked out the window. “It’s after eleven. Don’t you think that’s a strange time of night to call on a lady?”

“She keeps late hours,” Andy assured him, taking out his cell. “I’ll call her, though, make sure she’s cool with it. You always call Sky before you visit.”


He sketched a shrug. “It’s one of her rules. I figure she’s protecting her clients. I mean, who in this town wants people to know you get your fortune read, right? It’s ringing.”

Andy drove one-handed while Zach leaned his head against the window, watching the city lights stream by. No one would care if people knew you got your fortune read. That was Hollywood.

He was nicely buzzed and feeling very good: his series was on hiatus for the next two weeks, giving him a much-needed break. He was leaving for Sydney on vacation the next day, and Kris was going with him, but that was okay. She understood how things worked. She wouldn’t get in the way.

After Australia, he’d visit his parents in New York City. That meant more fun. He smiled. Zach had the greatest life ever, and he knew it.

“… We’re about twenty minutes away,” Andy was saying. He listened for a moment. “Nope, won’t stay long. Thanks, Sky.” He ended the call. “All set. She has another appointment after, so we’ll have to make it quick.”

“Sure.” Zach pulled his long legs up on the seat and wrapped his arms around them while his blood fizzed with alcohol. He was determined the next couple of weeks be an adventure. Tonight was the kick-off.

Andy pulled up in front of a heavily landscaped property, behind which pools of golden light glowed; lamps from inside the house, he assumed.

Fumbling with the door latch, he sort of fell out of the car, stumbled over the curb, straightened, and realized he needed relief immediately. “Wait,” he said softly to Andy. “Gotta water a tree first.”

He heard Andy chuckling as he found a suitable place to drain his bladder. As he zipped up, he felt somewhat less drunk and wondered if he was imagining that. Did dumping about a gallon of liquid at the base of a maple tree constitute an impending return to a more sober frame of mind?

Tripping over a tree root on his way back to Andy, he laughed quietly. Guess not.

Andy led him down a flagstone walkway which wove through dense stands of trees and underbrush. Rounding a curve, he saw a small cottage, all on one floor, surrounded by an effusive overgrowth of flowers and greenery planted in the wild, riotous way of English gardens. Fairy lights twinkled here and there, giving the grounds an enchanted look.

Andy marched to the front door and knocked. Zach weaved a bit before leaning against his friend’s arm. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just… you know. Feeling good.”

“If I was feeling as good as you right now, I’d be passed out somewhere.”

Zach muffled his laughter in Andy’s shoulder. “Perhaps Sky went out to find the moon,” he suggested nonsensically and giggled again.

The door opened, and Zach turned to look at the person who stood there, backlit with warm yellow light. Tall, slender, wearing some kind of dark diaphanous robe or caftan, she sported black hair that fell over her shoulders to her breasts. It was too dark to see her features.

“Andy,” she said in a low-pitched musical voice. “A little late, even for you.”

“I apologize,” he said, “but my friend needs something to help him sleep.”

The woman’s eyes moved to him, and he made an effort to appear sober. “Hi.”

He heard the smile in her voice when she said, “You’re drunk.”

Zach laughed. So much for that. “I am… a little.”

“You can take nothing tonight. It’s not good to mix alcohol with medicine, and my herbs are medicine.” She stepped back. “Come in.”




About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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32 Responses to Sneak Peak: WIP Excerpt

  1. Allison says:

    Oh, I want more! I love the mix of characters. I look forward to more glimpses in the future. I was already excited about this one but now I can’t wait. Are you planning on releasing it this year?

  2. AJ Rose says:

    Reblogged this on AJ Rose and commented:
    I cannot WAIT for this story to come out!

  3. Christine J. says:

    Well, isn’t that intriguing? The snippet and your cast of characters have certainly caught my attention. More, please! 😉

  4. Christine J. says:

    Just read this on Theo’s page. Between the two of you, it appears I’ll have some delightful reading ahead! Great work, and I’m very excited for you both!

  5. I think I’m going to have to have a playlist of characters in one hand and list of definitions in the other 🙂 to read this but can’t wait!

  6. Judy says:

    AJ suggested I ask you, so I’m pestering you now : Can we get another snippet? Just a titsy-tiny one? Or a hint why Zach doesn’t sleep well?

  7. Dani says:

    Looking forward to reading it Theo 🙂 x

  8. Karen says:

    Ok I’m hooked already, god you and AJ are doing nothing for my ability to get caught up on my reading list. The diversity in the characters you’ve presented so far is excellent, I love stories that not only step outside the box but don’t even acknowledge that it exist. I am totally going to be watching for this one when you get it done, it’s already on my mental must have list.

    • Good to hear. 🙂

      This one doesn’t fit any specific genre, so I’m concerned about how people will find it. Guess I’ll just have to shove it in their faces, huh?

      • Karen says:

        You need to market it as a book that has something for everyone. That will pique their curiosity and those of us that already know you tell an excellent story will just have to do the social media thing, it’ll happen.

  9. Judy says:

    Hi, me again. I thought while waiting I could start getting to know some of your work, and read “Numbers”, but apparently I’m too stupid to find it … or is it really not available on amazon?
    I found it in the Dreamspinner Press Store, but I can’t order there directly. Can anybody help me out? Please note that I’m partially tech-impaired and need simple instructions 😉

    • Unfortunately, because it’s a short story, you can only get it at Dreamspinner. However, if you plug “fenraven” into Amazon’s search engine, you will find lots of my stuff: Phoenix Rising, A Blue Paradise, the Precog trilogy, and A Silence Kept. Any or all of them are good. Heh.

      • Judy says:

        Darn, just my luck. And I did find the rest of your stuff, I’m not that gravely challenged 😉
        Phoenix rising it is.

        • Well, that’s good. 🙂

          One word of warning at Amazon: make sure I’m the author. It seems, when I edit someone’s manuscript and please the hell out of them, they can then list me as a “contributor” when they upload their finished work. Sometimes, that makes me look like a co-writer. I’m not. I only edited it. Amazon needs to fix that. ;/

  10. Helle says:

    Goody goody goody (*wringing my hands*), so looking forward to it 🙂

    • 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ll post another excerpt soon.

      Mostly, I just want to get cracking and finish it! I’m so excited about the direction the story is going.

  11. Judy says:

    Yes, I want another excerpt, too. Especially since I just finished ‘Phoenix rising’ (the reason for my sleepless night). Damn, just how much can you put into one story and make it work? I apologize up-front, I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, I can’t even range this in. That’s quiet an interesting cross-over of genres, in itself a reminder not to indulge in pigeonholing.
    I’m a sucker for mythological and magical creatures, as long as there’s magic in the world there’s hope. And love itself is a kind of magic, so this was right up my alley. Plus, the ending was a huge surprise, I did not see that coming.
    What struck me first was the chemistry between Artemis and Rachel, a well attuned team. You can tell from the way they mock each other banteringly, and to the point dialogues, that they work together well. Only when Talis was introduced I came to think about the choice of names.
    Artemis, greek goddess of the hunt, associated with the moon, especially fitting for a detective who’s dedicated to his job. Talis, literally meaning life, associated with the sun, like the Phoenix. Clever.
    And like this two celestial bodies Artemis and Talis are different and yet the same, both searching for another being to complete each one, both devoted to their purpose, and both have to pay a price. But they start at completely contrary points.
    While Artemis feels the attraction he’s determined not to succumb, Talis on the other hand is instantly sure he’s found his soulmate, yet he doesn’t urge Artemis.
    Distance, first from his familiar surroundings and later on from Talis, puts it all into perspective for Artemis.
    My heart stopped missing a beat when the two finally got together – and the moment both had yearned for appeared to turn into a catastrophe. Unless it didn’t. Instead love – once more – prevailed, and Talis was freed from his burden. Wonderful allegory, love being the salvation not only for the lovers, but for all of humanity.
    Forgive me, Theo (or do you prefer Fen?), if I misinterpreted your work or left out something important. I tried not to spoiler too much, because this is an exceptional book, and everybody should discover it for himself.

    • I’m so glad you liked it, and I enjoyed reading your review. If you could put it on Amazon, I’d appreciate it. 🙂

      This book has an interesting history. I started it, hit a wall really bad when I realized something major in the plot made no sense and I had to somehow fix it, and put it aside while I wrote The Blue Paradise.

      After I finished that one, I experienced an epiphany about Talis and returned to finish that story. It all somehow magically fell into place.

      The ending was a surprise to me, too, which is why I don’t outline my stories. I just dive in and let them carry me away.

      • Judy says:

        Done (could have thought of it myself, darn). Ain’t that curious how some things work out?
        “Try too hard and you will fail,” that’s what a very good friend of mine always tells me when I get impatient with myself for not getting things done fast enough.

  12. Pingback: Another Excerpt from Transgression | Theo Fenraven

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